Avenues of Youth Engagement
Debates / Public Meetings
This has been the avenue for most active participation of the highest number of young people. This includes youth development sector specific meetings, meetings with specific groups of young people, and public meetings led by young people.
Sector meetings and direct engagement
The EAC Directorate of Social Sector Development through its Department of Gender and Community development continually engages directly with young people and youth organisations. The meetings and discussions have resulted in the formation of the East African Youth Network as direct a platform for direct engagement between youth and the EAC Secretariat at the regional level. At the National level, the EAC Secretariat engages with the youth through their respective National Youth Councils.
Youth Learning Exchange Programmes
The Department of Political Affairs and in collaboration with the Directorate of Social Sectors have engaged youth on issues pertaining to the integration process through youth platforms, dialogues, exchange programmes and sensitisation fora under the EAC Nyerere Centre for Peace Research. Between 2011 and 2013, over 90 students from East African universities have benefited from the exchange training programmes in Peace and Conflict Resolution, Good Governance and Human Rights. These programmes equip young people with skills and confidence to eventually play an active role in the integration process as well as offer a platform for young people in institutions of higher learning to learn more about the EAC Region.
The Annual EAC University Students Debate
Since 2012, the Department of Political Affairs has hosted the EAC University Students Debate on Regional Integration every year. This event has provided a regional platform to promote dialogue among university students and youth, and interest them in advocating for Regional Integration. In preparation for the Debate, the university students submit essays that express their perspectives on the EAC integration process. The debate is aimed at demonstrating the extent of interest and knowledge of university students on East African integration and youth views on the integration process.
To deepen reach and impact of this process, post-debate activities include the selection of EAC integration champions, well performing debaters to return to their countries and learning institutions to share their views and learning, referred to as the “EAC Youth Ambassadors”. In a bid to ensure the continued engagement of university students in accelerating integration through knowledge and experience sharing, the EAC Youth Ambassadors Platform was launched in September 2013 to serve as a forum for current and alumni Ambassadors and representatives of the EAC clubs that they form in universities at national level. At national level, the Ambassadors have worked in close collaboration with ministries responsible for East African Community affairs.
EAC Youth Clubs and EAC Integration Clubs
Since August 2012, the EAC Youth Ambassadors have been engaging and empowering students to enhance their contribution to the EAC integration agenda, through effective peer training and establishment of EAC Youth Clubs in Universities across the Partner States. The EAC clubs are self-sustaining entities with their own leadership structure, and some are formally recognised by Universities as an student bodies. The clubs increase young people’s enthusiasm among the youth and heighten support for the EAC Regional Integration as they engage in constructive dialogues on the integration process.
Through such national-level sensitisation and education activities, the EAC Youth Ambassadors reached over 5,724 students and university administrators in 25 universities directly and indirectly through electronic and other media between September 2013 and July 2014 alone. They have formed 30 EAC youth clubs at University level which continue to sensitise students on progress of integration long after the Ambassadors have left.
The successful roll-out of this initiative necessitated the establishment of EAC clubs in Secondary Schools as well. This was aimed at further building a formidable structure of sensitisation activities, which coordinates and promotes youth dialogue, sensitisation and awareness creation on the EAC Integration process, right from the secondary to the university levels.
So far, EAC Integration Clubs have been formed in pilot secondary schools in all Partner States. Evidenced by the growing membership to the clubs, and a host of exciting activities rolled out such as debates on the EAC Integration process and regional developments, the EAC aims to expand the growth of the Clubs in all Secondary Schools and eventually to Primary Schools in all Partner States.